We would like to thank all the teams that took part in 2016/17
Congratulations to the following competition winners who received $7.5k cash prizes and the opportunity to license the technologies:
Cloud-Based Data Collection App
Alexander Moszczynski, Andrew Kope, Patrick McCunn
Hand-Held Breast Scanner
Tomi Nano, Justin Michael, Maya Kumar, Terenz Escartin
Winner: Medical Innovation Fellows
Mirror Box for Lower-Extremity Therapy
Esther Lau, Ashley Hannon, Solmaz Karamdoust
2016/17 In Review
Individuals across 3 technologies
Teams passed Stage 1
Teams passed Stage 2
View details from each of the three technologies by clicking on the left menu below.
Cloud-Based Data Collection App
Current data collection and archiving methods are time-consuming and error-prone. Field scientists and technicians must carry a wide variety of sampling devices that inherently lack the ability to communicate with each other – often relying on a pen-and-paper system of recording and annotation.
With this in mind, researchers at Western have developed a robust software system designed to leverage modern communication and multimedia technologies to accurately and efficiently collect data which can be instantly shared over the cloud with the appropriate experts for analysis, data mining and data visualization.
This system consists of a custom app installed on an iPad that communicates with a wide range of peripherals such as RFID encoders, cameras, GPS devices or spectrometers. In the field, the app compiles collected geographical data, optionally prints a physical tag to be affixed to the sample and allows the technician to add any observations, sketches, pictures and/or interpretations of the data prior to syncing it to the internet cloud.
- Cloud-based: data from the field is instantly shared with analysts in the lab
- Streamlined: integrates a variety of powerful data collection and analysis tools into one user-friendly system
- Customizable: app can be modified for a wide variety of applications such as environmental assessments, oil and gas exploration, natural resource management, mining, agriculture or door-to-door surveying
Dr. ‘Oz’ Osinski is Associate Professor in Planetary Geology at Western. His research interests are diverse and interdisciplinary in nature. Dr. Osinski and his team place a strong emphasis on fieldwork – forming the basis for much of their research. His work synthesizes field, remote sensing, and laboratory observations with a range of geochemical data and falls into three main areas: planetary geology, astrobiology, and economic geology. He approaches planetary geology with the fundamental view that interpretations of other planetary bodies must begin by using the Earth as a reference. In addition, he is interested in developing technologies and techniques for human and robotic surface operations on the Moon and Mars. Dr. Osinski received his Ph.D. from the University of New Brunswick in 2004.
Hand-Held Breast Scanner
Western researchers have developed a low-cost, safe and highly portable medical scanner for detecting breast cancer. Conventional breast scanners typically use high-energy X-rays to image the breast, which can interfere with and alter the natural structure of tissues, especially if used frequently. As a result, these scanners are not recommended for vulnerable patients such as children or pregnant women, and their frequency of use is limited. Alternatively, the hand-held scanner developed at Western uses an ultra-low energy electric field to scan tissue – meaning there is little risk to the patient and no limit to the frequency of scans.
How It Works
- An excitation board transmits an electric field through the breast tissue. A sensor board mounted on the breast parallel to the excitation board measures the transmitted data.
- The sensor board transfers the data to a computer via USB where it is visualized on-screen. Generally, pathological tissues have significantly higher electrical permittivity values in comparison to normal tissue – meaning breast tumours can easily be distinguished from healthy tissue.
- Portable: compact, robust design means the scanner is appropriate for use at the bedside or in the field
- Low-cost: the cost of parts used to construct the prototype was ~$500. Typically, conventional systems cost hospitals between $200,000 and $500,000
- Safe: risk from high-energy X-rays is eliminated
Dr. Abbas Samani is focused on biological tissue computer modeling and its applications in medical imaging. His main research goal is to develop non-invasive or minimally invasive medical diagnostic tools for identifying cancer or heart disease. Dr. Samani received his B.Sc. degree from Amirkabir University of Technology and M.Sc. degree from the University of Tehran. He received a Ph.D. in engineering from the University of Waterloo. After working as a Research Associate at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, he joined Western in 2003 where he is currently an Associate Professor, holding a joint faculty position in the Departments of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Medical Biophysics. He is also a core faculty member of Western’s Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program, and is an Associate Scientist at Imaging Research Laboratories of Robarts Research Institute.
Mirror Box For Lower-Extremity Therapy
Mirror boxes are used by physiotherapists to aid in the recovery of ailments that affect the limbs, such as stroke or amputation. Patients perform movements of the unaffected limb while watching its reflection in a mirror. In principle, this visual stimulus tricks the brain into thinking a full range of movement of the affected limb has occurred, leading to a re-wiring of the motor cortex. This technique has been demonstrated to increase mobility and reduce pain in the affected limb.
Although most mirror therapy devices were created for use on the upper extremities, researchers at Western have developed a novel mirror box that is designed for the stimulation of the lower extremities. What makes this product stand out from the handful of existing mirror boxes are the built-in slider boards which allow the patient to perform complex bilateral multi-joint movements (that mimic standing and walking) for a long period of time without tiring. These slider boards are also instrumented to collect data on the movements – which can be used by clinicians to offer better outcomes for patients.
- Designed for lower extremities
- Slider boards: allow for realistic bilateral multi-joint movements with the added ability to log movement data
- Portable: can easily be disassembled for storage and transport
Dr. Patterson is an Assistant Professor in Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto and a Scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation institute (TRI). Her research focuses on neurorehabilitation, postural control, and motor re-learning. Specifically, she is interested in developing clinical tools to help patients recover from debilitating strokes. Dr. Patterson received her B.Sc. in physiotherapy training from Queen’s University and practiced clinically in Canada and the United States before returning to Canada where she received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. Dr. Patterson was a postdoc at McGill University before joining Western’s School of Physical Therapy as an Assistant Professor (2010 – 2013).